Sunday, July 30, 2023

State of the Schafer: Starting a new chapter

More happy news to share! I am all done with treatment and have a clean bill of health. The results of the DCISionRT test done on my samples from surgery came back saying my risk of recurrence was very low and radiation would make no difference. Whew! That meant I got to avoid radiation, which was quite a relief. No more worries over risks of heart and lung damage, plus I didn't have to temporarily move to Dunedin or Christchurch. (Radiation has to be done every day for many days, and the nearest center is 4 hours away from where we live, so the logistics were a bit daunting.) 

Back when my initial biopsy was performed in February, the nurse assured me that "all this" would likely just be a "blip in your rearview mirror" by July. I don't know if blip is quite the right word, but I am definitely delighted to be done with everything medical and back to more or less normal life. 

First ski day of the season!

This isn't the only big milestone I'm celebrating. Last week, my husband and son and I all officially became citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand. Now I truly get to call New Zealand home! 

At the citizenship ceremony presided over by the local mayor, we came onto the stage in groups of 10 to receive our official citizenship certificates and a native plant. The ceremony invitation said we were encouraged to wear attire from our birth country. My Aussie husband joked he should wear an Akubra hat. Even so, he couldn't have outdone the Scottish guy in kilt and gumboots.

Happy new citizens!

All 100 new citizens celebrating together. 

I do retain my U.S. citizenship, as both NZ and the US are fine with dual citizenship. (The U.S does not care what oaths you might swear to other countries--you'll stay a U.S. citizen and continue paying U.S. taxes unless you pay big bucks to officially renounce. On the upside, staying a citizen also means you still get to vote in U.S. elections, which I certainly plan to do.) But I love New Zealand so much that I am delighted to be more than just a resident, now. I hope I can give plenty back to my new country. 

I'll never get over NZ's beauty

So! Onward to a new chapter of life, which hopefully will include a lot more writing as well as a return to fun mountain adventures. I've got edits in hand for the Cara story, The White Serpent--thanks to the ever-awesome Mazarkis Williams for the keen editorial eye. No major changes are needed, just some smaller fixes, so hopefully those won't take me too long.

And hey, in the meantime, if you're looking for something great to read, check out Martha Wells and Ursula Vernon (a.k.a. T. Kingfisher). They are both incredibly talented authors whose work I adore, and both are now facing their own battles with breast cancer (see here and here). 

Martha Wells's latest release Witch King was one of the books that kept me sane during the agonizing wait for my results after my 2nd surgery. If you love fantasy adventures with interwoven timelines, complex cultures, lots of magic, and great friendships, I highly recommend the read. Or if you're into SF and haven't yet tried her highly-acclaimed Murderbot series, you're definitely missing out. 

As for Ursula Vernon, when I was waiting for results on the DCISionRT test, I re-read The Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking, because it had just the sort of wit and warmth and empathy that I needed. My absolute favorites of her work are probably Summer in Orcus (so imaginative!) and Swordheart (so funny!), but honestly, every one of her many, many novels are delightful. 

I want to do a longer post about more of the books that proved to be excellent and enjoyable distractions while I was in treatment, but between work, my final pass on The White Serpent, and my delight in returning to the mountains, I dare not make promises about finding time. We shall see...

Comet is as excited for a new chapter as I am


  1. So glad to hear all is well with you. And you even leveled up your citizenship! I think I'd go around all day saying, "I'm a New Zealander..." Like I was a caterpillar that just got wings (not to mention a very cool place to call home).

    Hope all goes well for your writer friends, too. From their posts, they sound like they have good attitudes and great support, which is so key.

    It's hot and humid here, so you and Comet go enjoy some of that snow for me!

    1. Thanks, Steve! Haha, I prefer to go around saying, "I'm a Kiwi..." so I can imagine myself as an adorable flightless bird. Re the snow, I'll definitely try and enjoy it, although the amount is very low. NZ is far from immune to climate's the worst start to a ski season ever, for our local resorts. (The North Island has gotten plenty of moisture...too much, even...but not down here.) But even with only a couple runs open at our local mountain, I'm determined to enjoy snow while it lasts.